James Jones column: Fans need to support teams

Published 5:36 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023

High school football teams are halfway through the season, and I’ve seen a disturbing trend through the last five weeks.

I’m disappointed at the lack of attendance for the games I’ve covered for The Selma Times-Journal this season.

Ive written coverage for Selma, Southside, Keith, Morgan Academy and Meadowview Christian Academy at least once each this season. Dallas County’s team will have their day in the sun too before the season is over.

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All of the games I’ve seen have one thing in common: over half the stands are empty.

I’m not criticizing the principals, administrators or coaches at any of those schools for this.  It is not their fault. 

School faculty members have a lot to deal with on the everyday grind of running a school.  Coaches are busy with planning for weekly games and some teach class on a daily basis.

But the fans have been somewhat absent this season. I’m calling out the fans, the ones who call themselves team supporters, and asking them to do better for the kids.

It’s easy being a fan whenever the team’s winning. You show up and scream at the top of your lungs, high-fiving the person next to you in the stands.

It’s harder being a supporter whenever a team’s losing.  If a person shows up for the underdog, they sometimes call the head coach an idiot and demand for their firing.

I’m always annoyed by the fans or parents who call kids over to the sidelines, attempting to advise the student-athletes.  Those so-called experts are disrespecting and undermining the coaches. They should mind their own business. No one goes to their jobs and tells them what to do.

When played football at Holt High School, my grandmother told Ironmen head coach Woody Clements to discipline me at practice if necessary. She new I needed it and respected the coach’s need to maintain discipline on our team.

Three years ago, a smart-aleck reporter from ESPN tried to attract national attention at the University of Alabama and asked Bryce Young’s parents what advice they gave him. The father’s response was simple, “I’ll tell him to listen to coach Saban.”

Perfect response. Saban coaches the Crimson Tide. Bryce’s father did not.

Sometimes, the fans don’t show up to games, but instead post negative comments on social media about the team’s performance. You’re not helping the kids that way, only preventing them from listening to the coaching staff.

If anybody thinks all of these kids will become college stars and turn into instant millionaires, guess again. We have a handful of kids with a chance to live the American dream if their talent is developed properly at the next level.

The rest of these student-athletes will go on to become future doctors, attorneys, nurses, teachers, principals, and factory workers. High school sports can be used as a tool for life lessons and future success. Win or lose, these children deserve our support. I want to see more fans in the seats at these games in the near future. The kids deserve it and so do the schools.